WWB Wise Guru Q&A Series: Newly Released Book ‘The Nature Fix’ Presents Cutting Edge Science on How Nature Affects our Health & Well-Being from a World Wise Perspective…

Mar 15, 2017 by

NatureFix_2 with frame.jpgWWB Wise Guru: Florence Williams is an American journalist and nonfiction author whose work focuses on the environment, health and science. She is a contributing editor at Outside magazine and a freelance writer for National Geographic, the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Slate, Mother Jones, High Country News, O-Oprah, W., Bicycling and numerous other publications.

Her first book, Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in science and technology and the 2013 Audie in general nonfiction. The New York Times named it a notable book of 2012.

She was a Scripps Fellow at the Center of Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado. She is a fellow at the Center for Humans and Nature and a visiting scholar at George Washington University. She serves on the board of nonprofit environmental magazine, High Country News.

WWB Featured Book: ‘The Nature Fix, Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative’ explores the science behind our connection to nature and proposes that for optimal well-being, regular doses of nature are not only recommended but required.

 

Lauroly Opening- I am so honored and pleased Florence Williams could join me for a Q&A. Her book is a favorite of mine, and so glad she wrote it. Perhaps it’s a favorite because it speaks to me on a very personal level. Nature has always been my fix, without a doubt. Having said this, I never classified myself as ‘Nature Girl’. I didn’t camp as a kid and I didn’t hike until my 20’s. But being outside and playing in nature was always a big part of my life experience. I can thank my Dad for that. I have this in common with the author! I only saw him on weekends growing up, and every weekend, weather permitted, we were either horseback riding in the woods, walking in the woods, or rowing a boat on a lake next to the woods. Those early experiences and the need to be outdoors has never left me. I like the term Florence used in the book, “drinking the tonic of nature.”I wrote a piece for this very blog on Nature Therapy in 2015 and briefly discussed ‘Forest Bathing’ in Japan which she covers quite extensively in the book. Later in my life, traveling for business, I would always make a point to find a Public Garden no matter where I was, so I could reconnect with nature and myself. Reading ‘The Nature Fix’ confirmed what I have had always felt intuitively about nature…I’m a part of it and it’s a part of me.

Besides my personal connection to the topic of your book, I found it to be the perfect non-fiction book. It is well researched, highly informative and very entertaining as well. I love how she takes us through the research via her own personal travel. Her travel takes us to Japan, Korea, Singapore, Finland, Sweden, Scotland, and we learn a lot about their cultures and wellness philosophies. Florence packed so much into this book, I found myself really challenged about where to start. I remind myself that I do these Q&A’s to recommend books and motivate people to go and read the books. I hope to touch on some of the many important findings in this book…

 

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Lauroly Q- Welcome Florence Williams! So if everyone hasn’t heard yet, nature is good for civilization!  What you set out to do is to find the science to support why nature is so important to our humanity and our everyday well-being. To do that we need to understand our senses and how much of how we function is synced with nature.  It seems to me that when we are out in nature we are fully alive, because many of our senses are engaged in our experience. This explains to me personally why I am generally happier when I am outside. There is an enlightening chapter where you focus on a man in Sweden who experienced a personal tragedy and later came to understand how important nature therapy is to patients with depression. Yet like everything else with humans, the dose of nature varies from human to human.  What do we know so far about nature as therapy? Tell us more…

 

 

 

flopromoBarrOutdoorFlorence Williams: Yes, Lauroly, you are exactly right that it does seem to be the full-sensory experience that awakens our sense of well-being, and that there are many studies that support this idea. But the science is still young, and many of the studies are very small. It’s actually quite difficult for scientists to tease apart exactly which elements of nature are most helpful or which senses are most engaged. I was struck by the studies in Japan, led by Japanese anthropologist Yoshifumi Miyazaki, that measured physiological changes to the nervous system after just 20 minutes of being in the woods. These studies showed a 20-minute stroll on a forest trail can reduce your blood pressure an average 11 percent and lower your cortisol hormones (a measure of stress) by six percent. Perhaps because of the practice of forest bathing in Japan, people there are attuned to using all their senses in the woods – so they’re really paying attention to what they’re smelling and feeling and hearing and seeing. It seems that shortcut to mindfulness really helps us feel calmer and relaxed more quickly when we’re out in nature.
 

Lauroly Q– Glad you started with Japan. We can’t discuss your book without talking about ‘ Shinren Yoku (Forest Bathing)’. What is it about the Japanese culture, that has them embracing Forest Bathing so fervently that it has become part of their national healthcare policy? When you asked Miyazaki why nature is so important to their culture, he had this to say, “In our culture, nature is part of our minds and bodies and philosophy. In our tradition, all things are relative to something else.” Loved his answer. But it is amazing how the Japanese ended up being so far removed from the very thing that defined them isn’t it?

Florence Williams: Japan industrialized very quickly. The cities grew fast and there was intense economic competition for good jobs, good schooling and feeding the corporate culture. People are stressed out there, and they work and study incredibly long hours, effectively removing them from a lot of time in the countryside. But it would be mistake to say that modern life has disconnected them from nature. The Japanese still internalize a close connection to plants, for example, in their practices of bonsai and flower arranging, in their tiny gardens and through their lens of wabi sabi, which celebrates the seasons and simple nature. I think in many ways the Japanese definition of nature is more generous that the western one, which looks at spaces like parks and wilderness areas, rather than integrating elements of the natural world into everyday life and homes. That said, the Japanese do seem to relish getting outside when they can. As a result of Miyazaki’s data, the country has designated 48 “forest therapy” trails where overworked, urban citizens are now urged to go unwind, and it looks like more trails are being created.

Lauroly Q- One of the things I was wondering about while reading about your research in Finland, is related to Vitamin D (sun) and the deprivation they experience in winter. Have any researchers looked at how tree therapy might counteract the negative effects of not having enough sun? This is a good time to tell us about why Cypress Trees seem to have such a positive effect on our senses. As you put it, in the book “we enjoy a neural bath of happy hormones”! Below is a quick video you created to illustrate the beneficial effects of nature…

 

Florence Williams: Trees are certainly magical and wonderful, and hit a lot of our happy buttons, from providing rich visuals, especially fractal patterns (known to promote alpha brainwaves) to creating habitat for birds that in turn relax us with their birdsong. The smell piece is fascinating, as tree aerosols from cypress trees in Japan were found to lower blood pressure and increase Killer T immune cells in humans. That said, even in Finland and even in winter, being outside provides more brightness and full-spectrum light than being inside, and so the light aspect is still important. Full spectrum light is linked to wellbeing, and vitamin D is linked to all sorts of good things, from shaping our retinas to strengthening our bones. The lumens outside is generally 10 times greater than the lumens inside, except of course at night. Even the darkness, though, can help reset our circadian rhythms so we sleep better.

Lauroly Q- As a psychology major I found a lot of the research on education, and brain disorders like ADHD fascinating with respect to nature. Besides the specific special needs of children on the spectrum, your book explores the idea that children in general really need nature and play. I loved the section on Friedrich Frobel and his research. He focused on cultivating curiosity and freedom in childhood. Tell us how ‘kindergarten’ was originally conceptualized, and how nature was at the center of child education…

Florence Williams: Friedrich Froebel, who was born in Germany in 1782, was an educator heavily influenced by Rousseau, who said, “Everything is good as it comes from the hands of the Author of Nature.” Rousseau and Froebel both made a case for allowing young children to explore and learn based on their own curiosity. Froebel believed that an education filled with nature and art could instill a lifelong readiness to learn and also develop empathy and a love for living things. He really invented kindergarten, and it was nature-based from the beginning. Unfortunately, many cultures now consider kindergarten the new first-grade, and are taking children inside to sit at desks and learn their academics. We are not devoting enough time to considering what has been lost in this new model.

Lauroly Closing: I hope we don’t lose that model. Cultures change, but we don’t have to lose the wisdom that has already been acquired, especially when it comes to child development. Thank you Florence for joining me at World Wise Beauty, to discuss your important and wonderful book. I am going to make it my personal duty to share this book with everyone! I know they will love it and your research will resonate for them. I believe we are realizing nature is not a luxury but an absolute essential to our personal wellness, our humanity and our culture. See you out there Florence!

Florence Williams Closing: Thanks so much for your interest, Lauroly. It was so much fun reporting and writing this book, and it’s certainly made me spend more time outside. I will hope it will influence others as well.

 

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WWB Passioneer Library: Q&A With Author of: Life On Purpose–How Living For What Matters Most Changes Everything

Aug 26, 2016 by

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The World Wise Beauty ‘Passioneer Series’

Excited to welcome back  one of my favorite experts, Dr. Vic Strecher.  He came to visit World Wise Beauty in 2015 to talk about his book ‘On Purpose’, which is a graphic novel telling a beautiful, fantasy-fueled, story of self-discovery and personal growth. His new book while not a graphic novel, covers the important topics of ‘purpose and meaning’ in more depth, and shows us how ‘purpose’ not only leads to self-fulfillment but to a better society. Not only is Dr. Stecher a professor and author, but he is also an inspiring entrepreneur who has taken his passion for health and well-being, and created new solutions that operate at the intersection of the science of behavior change and advanced technology. See his very impressive bio below and join me for a stimulating Q&A about his new book Life on Purpose, How Living For What Matters Most, Changes Everything.

Vic Strecher PhD MPH is a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health and Director for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship. For over two decades Vic Strecher has been a leader and visionary in the fields of health and well-being, creating new solutions that operate at the intersection of the science of behavior change and advanced technology. A noted researcher and successful entrepreneur, Vic has cultivated a passion for connecting academic research to practical applications. In 1998, Vic created Health Media pioneering Web-based “digital health coaching.” The company set a new benchmark for scalable, lifestyle and condition management program delivery. Health Media was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 2008. In late 2014, Vic founded JOOL Health Inc. as a major paradigm shift in how individuals engage in the pursuit of well-being while offering organizations a more insightful means to support positive, healthy change. Vic and his work have recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, WIRED, the Chicago Tribute, and at TEDMED and TEDX events. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with his wife Jeri.

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Dr. Vic Strecher

 

 

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Lauroly Q-Welcome back Vic! Let’s dig in. Just recently I had a conversation with someone who was feeling very depressed about the world in general. She was feeling disillusioned with not only politics but humanity in general. Giving her time and energy to many causes, she felt like giving up. Rather than lecture people, I always have a book up my sleeve to recommend. Guess what it was Vic? It was ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ by Viktor Frankl. That was a book I never forgot reading as a psychology major in college and always reminds me of mankind’s greatest gift which is the ability to choose and select our own meaning. You mention his work a lot and of course it makes sense because your passion is purpose. I love how you took your passion for philosophy and extracted amazing wisdom for us to think about.  I hope more people discover ‘works of philosophy’ who never studied it in college, through your book. Why do you think going back to the great philosophers is so important when it comes to finding our purpose? You admit in the book, that you didn’t have much interest in it as a young man.

 

Dr. Vic Strecher: True, I never felt an affinity with ancient philosophers until I needed them. Then, it felt like they were writing personal letters to me. If you want to read something thoroughly modern and useful, you might start with Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, or better yet, Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things. Then read a few of Seneca’s letters and essays. See if you don’t get hooked on these 2,000 year old philosophers as well! These writings were amazing for two reasons: (1) they were written by people who grew up in such different circumstances, yet had such relevant things to say about my own modern life, and (2) they push you to more carefully consider your existence, to not just run on automatic.

Lauroly Q-Thank you for sharing your great book recommendations. I love adding to my wisdom reading list! While you take us on this wonderful tour of philosophy, you also balance things with real world stories and examples of inspiring people finding their purpose. The most important one I feel is your own story. In sharing your touching and personal story, it makes me feel that you have truly connected the dots. Your wisdom was gained not just by research or study but by ‘getting through’ your own challenges and pain, and coming out of it with your own passionate purpose. My favorite quote is from Robert Frost “The Best Way Out is Always Through’. Can you share how you got through losing your nineteen year old daughter to life-long illness?

 

Dr. Vic Strecher: A few months after my daughter died I finally realized that, if I was going to survive, I’d need to think differently. It’s hard to think differently (at least for me) but two books really helped me: Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and Elizabeth Lesser’s Broken Open. These two books shoved me into a rabbit hole of new words and ideas. Words like, “ego,” “transcendence,” and “purpose.” But being a skeptical scientist, I’m always wondering whether these words and ideas have actually been tested. I was happily surprised to find that these ancient concepts have recently been studied by really good researchers. Over time, they’ve become subjects of my own research.

Lauroly Q- You discuss ‘personal agency’ in Chapter 2, and it’s a very important aspect of ‘finding and living your purpose’. Yet essentially the takeaway in your book is, we are all ultimately fulfilled from being ‘other focused’. I believe that’s why Viktor Frankl’s ideas and creation of ‘logo therapy’ is so profound. In this world, there are a lot of people worldwide experiencing strife and they don’t seem to have a sense of ‘personal agency’. They may find it quite difficult to find their purpose in a way that many self-help practitioners might suggest. Do you think like Maslow suggests, that we must first get past survival modes before we can be altruistic? I can answer my own question when I think of Jesus, Buddha, and Mother Teresa. It’s a great topic to explore with you, because there are many stories and examples of transcendence in your book I loved. Feel free to pick one…

 

Dr. Vic Strecher: I’m particularly drawn to the story of James Arinaitwe, who, as a boy in Uganda, lost his mother and father to AIDS by the time he was ten. He and his mother walked over 300 miles to the residential home of the President of Uganda to ask for an education. He’s now the co-founder and director of Teach for Uganda. He laughed when I suggested what many Westerners believe — that purpose is only a higher-order need. He said that “Families that break down are the ones who have no purpose or vision for the family. Purpose goes hand in hand with hope. In the West, people may not relate to this, but this is how we think. Purpose sustains poor people.”

 

Lauroly Q- I loved that story in your book. While purpose is your focus you really make the connection that wellness is key to our personal development. There are 5 wellness practices and rituals you explore in your book. Sleep, Presence, Activity, Creativity and Eating. How did creativity get on your top 5 list? I might add you really expand on the meaning and expression of creativity in your book.

 

Dr. Vic Strecher: Thank you for noticing! Creativity is one of my favorite subjects. It’s consistently ignored or at least de-emphasized in our schools and in our society as a whole, yet creativity is what will ultimately be needed to maintain our competitive edge in the world. I spent quite a bit of time understanding the way people conceptualize creativity. My favorite view is put forth by the psychologist Rollo May — that creativity requires courage — the courage to say that the status quo isn’t good enough and that there’s a better way. By the way, in our research, creativity and presence are the two leading predictors of energy and willpower, exceeding the impact of more traditional behaviors such as physical activity, eating behavior, or sleep.

Lauroly Closing: I could go on forever chatting with you about the ideas in your book, but this is a blog and most people will be better served reading your fantastic book for themselves. So this is my gift to the person I was recently talking to about hope and purpose. Your book is one I will no doubt recommend to anyone struggling with meaning, purpose and direction. Thank you for writing it Vic, and keep them coming. Your gift for communicating and emotionally connecting has so much to offer, especially in wellness culture.

Dr. Vic Strecher Closing: Thank you, Laura. I’ve so enjoyed your blog and your perspective and greatly appreciate your interest in this work!

 

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Mind Your Feet, Forks & Fingers for a “Disease-Proof” Life…Meet Dr. David L. Katz, Author,Wise Guru & Renown Specialist in Preventative Medicine

Nov 20, 2013 by

Featured Book: Disease-Proof –The Remarkable Truth about What Makes Us Well

Author & WWB Wise Guru: DAVID L. KATZ MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP,

Dr. Katz has been extensively involved in medical education. He was a founding director of one of the nation’s first combined residency training programs in Internal Medicine and Preventive Medicine (Griffin Hospital, Derby, CT); and served as Director of Medical Studies in Public Health at the Yale University School of Medicine for a span of 8 years. He has been named one of America’s Top Physicians in Preventive Medicine three times by the Consumer’s Research Council of America, and serves as a judge of best diets for the annual ranking published by US News & World Report. In 2009, he was a widely supported nominee for the position U.S. Surgeon General. He was named one of the 25 most influential people in the lives of children by Children’s Health Magazine. Dr. Katz has an extensive media portfolio, having worked for ABC News/Good Morning America as an on-air contributor, a writer for the New York Times syndicate, and a columnist to O, the Oprah Magazine. Currently, he is a blogger/medical review board member for the Huffington Post, a health contributor to US News & World Report, one of the original 150 ‘thought leader’ Influencer bloggers for LinkedIn; and a health writer for Everyday Health. And now a Wise Guru at World Wise Beauty!

Lauroly Opening– Welcome Dr. Katz, I am honored to have you here to talk about you new book “Disease Proof” co-authored with Stacy Colino. You are now officially a “Wise Guru” at World Wise Beauty.  Some of our readers will be just becoming familiar with your work via your new book, but the fact is you have been on the cutting edge of Preventative Medicine for the last fifteen years. You have a number of accreditations after your name.  I just want to give our readers a little background on your extensive education and expertise.  MD –Medical Doctor, MPH -Masters in Public Health, FACPM -Fellow of the American College of Preventative Medicine and FACP -Fellow of the American College of Physicians (internist).

Phew! What an impressive portfolio of work! You have been busy Dr. Katz and we are so grateful you have been.  Before you became a sort of “celebrity” in wellness you were tenaciously working hard to influence your own peers in the medical field about how to “reframe” how they were looking at healthcare and their patient’s wellness. But now you are on a big mission to educate us because without our own self-care we will all face the many diseases plaguing our society today. Let’s start with your opening paragraph in Chapter One of your book “Disease Proof”.  You start out with a strong statement about how we don’t have a healthcare system but a “disease care system”. Share your thoughts with us on this and why it is so important for us as individuals to take charge of our own personal health.

Dr. David L. Katz

 

 

Dr. Katz: Getting good care when we’re sick is certainly very important. As a doctor, I fully appreciate the value of clinical care. But health and vitality are not built in hospitals or clinics. The behaviors and choices that prevent disease in the first place have little to do with doctors. The real power to build health from its origins resides with us as individuals in the way we live our lives. True ‘health’ care resides with us, not the medical establishment. Only we can truly care for our own health.

 

 

Lauroly Q- You emphasize in your book “Disease Proof” how important it is to develop “skills” to lead a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes it’s amazing to think we now have to practically go back to school to learn to eat healthy and wise. You state in your book “The goal is to use your feet, forks and fingers wisely for the sake of your health”. What does this mean and how do you think we lost our basic instincts and common sense when it comes to eating and taking care of ourselves?

Dr. Katz: The evidence is overwhelming that if we eat optimally, exercise, and avoid tobacco- along with a few other good choices- we can reduce our lifetime risk of all major chronic disease by an astounding 80%. So, how we use our feet, forks, and fingers turns out to be the most important control we have over our medical destiny. As for losing our way, actually- our way lost us. Our instincts and behaviors are all suited for a Stone Age world where calories are relatively hard to get, and physical activity is unavoidable. The traits and tendencies that fostered our survival in that world conspire against us in this one. So to get to health in the modern world requires a skill set most people simply don’t have. Disease Proof provides it.

Lauroly Q- With so many diets passionately touting themselves as the “the best diet with proven results”, how does an individual create an “ideal diet” that will not only help them lose weight but also foster wellness and longevity? Often there is conflicting information in the health field, for example between Vegan and Paleo diets. You can have a nutritionist, doctor and scientist recommend very different approaches to diet and health often with a “one size fits all” mission and studies to back their prescriptions. Which “school of thought” is really superior and how do we decide which diet is right for us?

Dr. Katz: The best school of thought here is the objective, evidence-based, and unbiased school. It’s hard to be objective about the ‘best’ diet when you are trying to sell one! I routinely review the diet literature without bias, and reach the conclusion that the basic theme of optimal eating for human health is very clear (real food, mostly plants), while there is no clear evidence of any clear winning variation on that theme. You can get to health with really good versions of Vegan, Paleo, or Mediterranean diets and other besides. But all such diets that are good for both losing weight and finding health are made up of wholesome foods in balanced combinations, avoiding highly processed foods and the liabilities that come with them. We lay out the relevant case quite clearly in Disease Proof. As for what ‘diet’ is right for you- stay on the theme, and choose what suits your preferences and lifestyle. We should all be able to love the food that loves us back.

Lauroly Q- I love your chapter on “Taste-Bud Rehab” and can totally understand the concept! It is funny how we become used to and sometimes addicted to flavors over time. I accidentally tasted my friend’s coffee one day which was filled with flavored coffee-mate stuff and I literally had to spit it out. My friend can’t drink coffee without it and yet it tasted awful to me because I don’t drink artificially sweetened beverages in general.  It seems everything is overly sweetened and salted? How do you withdraw from unhealthy foods when our entire food system is determined to sell us products loaded with sugar and salt?

 

Dr. David L.Katz

Dr. Katz: We have choices in every food category- and the opportunity to trade up. Trading up little by little is easy, but it can exert strong effects on diet quality when you’ve done it enough, and it does retrain your taste buds along the way. Instead of giving up foods you love, trading up foods you love leads to better health, better weight, and better nutrition- but without any heavy lifting. This is just the kind of actionable advantage “skillpower” provides over relying solely on willpower.

 

Lauroly Q –Your book is more than just a book about changing diet, it is really about changing our “mindset” about what it takes to be healthy and disease proof.  It’s almost like we have to de-program ourselves from bad habits we slowly developed over time in our society. It seems daunting when you have so many” rituals” entrenched in our culture, like having an extra- large popcorn drenched in artificial butter with a mega size soft drink at the movies. Where do you think we should begin? The Mayor of NYC tried to make a change by focusing on limiting the sizes of soda sold and this created a real back lash from people. Yet if you don’t start with consumer culture how do you break through and reach people?

Dr. Katz: I work to change culture and the environment. But culture begins under our own roof, within our families. We are in charge. We can all start by changing our own health and behavior for the better. Guess what? When enough individuals and families have changed- when enough of us have disease proofed ourselves- we will have changed our culture and the world into the bargain!

Lauroly Closing – Dr. Katz, I completely agree about the idea of “us” being the drivers of culture. What we say yes AND no to defines our lifestyle and culture. I am thrilled to feature your book “Disease Proof” and thank you so much again for joining me at World Wise Beauty. Disease Proof offers a wealth of common sense knowledge but I hope many people will refer to your book as a handy “tool-kit”, to help them develop healthy habits, so they can actively take charge of their own health and live a “disease proof” life into their old age. Sounds like a really good “bargain” to me!

To discover more of Dr. Katz’s published books visit his website here.

Truly Herself,
Lauroly

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Wise Guru & International Best Selling Author Tom Rath Has a Simple Call to Action For You…Eat Move Sleep

Oct 8, 2013 by

 

WWB Featured Book:  Eat Move Sleep–How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes

WWB Wise Guru & Author: Tom Rath

Author Profile: Tom Rath is considered one of the most influential authors of the last decade, whose books and studies have focused on the role of human behavior in health, business, and economics.

Tom has written several international bestsellers, including the #1 New York Times bestseller How Full Is Your Bucket? In 2012, his book StrengthsFinder 2.0 was the top-selling nonfiction book worldwide. Rath’s most recent New York Times bestsellers are Strengths Based Leadership and Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements.

He also serves as a senior scientist and advisor to Gallup, where he previously spent 13 years leading the organization’s work on employee engagement, strengths, and well-being. Rath also served as vice chairman of the VHL cancer research organization. He earned degrees from the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania, where he is now a guest lecturer. He and his wife, Ashley, and their two children live in Arlington, Virginia.

Welcome Tom to World Wise Beauty-  I am truly honored to have you join me here. I am honored because you are a well-respected author and scientist but I am truly honored because you are wise human being with a great spirit and voice. I don’t know if our readers will glean all this from just a short Q&A but I promise them if they read your books they will come to my same opinion. You begin your book with a very personal story about your own health issues and facing life threatening cancer at the age of sixteen. This traumatic event at such a young age must have impacted your life in a major way. Can you share a little about how your battle with a rare genetic cancer has shaped your attitude, lifestyle and habits?

 

Author Tom Rath

 

Tom Rath: Yes, I was born with a rare condition that causes rampant cancerous growth throughout the body. As a result of this genetic mutation, I have been battling cancer for over two decades now. This has led me to do a great deal of research on the topic of health in general. Over the last decade, most of my work is focused on helping others to think about what they can do to prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and other largely preventable conditions. One of the most important things I’ve learned from this research is that the best way to keep yourself from dwelling on what is beyond your control is to learn a little bit each day about what you can do to stay ahead of your health. This daily learning and knowledge not only helps my physical health, but gives me more mental energy as well.

Lauroly Q- In some ways your early hardship was a blessing in disguise. You are probably healthier than most people without cancer. My Mom is in the advanced stages of cancer right now and has lived several years beyond what doctors told her she would because she was very health conscious most of her adult life. I share this because your book is a call to action for everyone to take good care of themselves because little changes and regular good habits can insure a lifetime of good-health and ward off many diseases like diabetes and heart disease. And in your case and my Mom’s—even slow down the acceleration of cancer. The title of your book Eat, Move, Sleep is simple. How did you decide on this title and why did you choose to make healthy living sound so simple.

Tom Rath: Yes I did hope for this book to be a call to action. That is also related to how we chose the title Eat Move Sleep, as these are the three most essential elements that we all need to keep top of mind everyday. Perhaps most importantly, it is thinking of all three of these things in combination that matters most. If you do one of the three well, it makes the other two easier. At first, I might’ve thought that embarking on an exercise program and a new diet was doing too much at one time. But it turns out that it is better to work on multiple elements at once.

Lauroly Q- You have a chapter on “sugar” and you refer to it as the next nicotine of our time. You say this because it’s addictive but many people don’t really understand the real magnitude of sugar’s effects on the body. Rather than beating people over the head with scary lectures about sugar you highlight the very rapid and positive affects one experiences just by reducing your sugar intake a little. Tell us more…

Tom Rath: Personally, if there was only one thing I could reduce or eliminate from my diet I would start with sugar. After reading hundreds of articles and studies about the relationship between sugar consumption and disease, it is clear to me the increase in sugar intake is one of the major causes of the epidemic of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer. One of the reasons we are so addicted to sugar is because having a little makes us crave more. This is a challenge but also an opportunity. I personally found that something as simple as eliminating added sugar from my coffee help me to have fewer cravings for sweet food and drinks later in the day. Making some of these little adjustments seems to work pretty well over time.

Lauroly Q- We can’t end this Q&A without talking about the very important subject of sleep. Living in a world hyped up on technology and keeping us constantly tuned in, we are losing our natural circadian rhythms, which many scientists believe we must maintain for good health and well-being. I loved your chapter called “Feast at Sunrise, Fast at Sunset”. Why is sleep so important to our health and what are the simple things we can we do to get more of it?

Tom Rath: I grew up with the mentality that sleep was the first thing you cut out of your routine if you needed to get more done. For most of my life, I treated sleep as an expense. However the more I studied this topic I realize that sleep is an investment that gives you more energy, allows you to be more productive, and so on. In terms of getting better sleep, in my own experience little adjustments like keeping the temperature a few degrees cooler in my bedroom, minimizing electrical light and device usage in the evening, and even something as simple as using a white noise app make a difference. Once you start to add up what I call the cumulative advantage from all these little changes, the result is better days.

Lauroly Closing- Thank you Tom for stopping by to share your wisdom and expertise on health and wellness based on your real life experience and scientific research.  Yes, you do have a great deal of research and studies behind you, but you are also sort of like a wise grandfather one always wants to take time to listen to. Perhaps this is because you had an amazing relationship with your own grandfather who was a huge positive influence on your life.  And maybe facing adversity and the concept of death early in life helped you to appreciate and value your life and health in a profound way. It all adds up. But one thing is for sure, we are lucky you have a wonderful gift for clear writing, communicating and sharing wisdom. Keep sharing…we are listening!

To learn more about Tom Rath and his other best-selling books, please visit www.tomrath.org.

Truly herself,
Lauroly

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Feeling Groovy and the “Slow Culture” Revolution…A Q&A with Carl Honoré

Aug 28, 2013 by

 

A GLOBE TROTTING WISE GURU VISITS WORLD WISE BEAUTY AND ASKS…WHAT’S YOUR HURRY? 
   

Carl Honoré, Author, Social Change Agent & WWB Wise Guru

 

Lauroly- Welcome Carl. I am truly honored to have the opportunity to do this Q&A with you. You are truly a wise guru and can’t wait to share your work, ideas and book with everyone.  I guess we should begin by touching  on what the “slow movement” is and how it really began in the early 1990’s in Italy with the SLOW FOOD movement.  It is wonderful to see the paradigm shift spread positively to other areas of culture.  It is no surprise that there is a slow movement, as we are literally living in a world that is always in “fast forward” mode.

What makes you so wise to me is you were able to step back and observe your own life as you were swept up in the culture of rushism.  Self-reflection and individuation is a challenging thing to do when the prevailing culture is demanding your submission to “get with the program”! Tell us what personally inspired you to write your first best-selling book “IN PRAISE OF SLOWNESS”. 

 

 

 

 

International Best-Selling Book by Carl Honoré

Carl Honore:  For me the starting point was deeply personal. My life had become an endless race against the clock. I was always in a hurry, scrambling to save a minute here, a few seconds there. My wake-up call came when I found myself toying with the idea of buying a collection of one-minute bedtime stories – Snow White in 60 seconds! – to read to my son. Suddenly it hit me: my rushaholism has got so out of hand that I’m even willing to speed up those precious moments with my children at the end of the day. There has to be a better way, I thought, because living in fast forward is not really living at all. That’s why I began investigating the possibility of slowing down.

Lauroly Q- I always ask this question…”Is culture shaping us or are we shaping culture”?  It seems “the culture of speed” is being shaped by us. It still amazes me to see soccer Moms in their SUV’s driving and texting at the same time ( U.S phenomenon I am sure).  How did we ever accept this as “ok” in our culture knowing we could endanger the lives of passengers in our car and others on the road? Texting while driving is some form of compulsive behavior which is just as destructive as any other irrational compulsion no? What are the three tell tale signs of a speedaholic? 

 

WWB Wonder: Are we all “roadrunners” trying to accelerate but leaving a path of destruction behind us?

 

 

Carl Honore:  Sadly, what you describe is anything but a U.S only phenomenon. The virus of hurry has infected most of the planet. You find soccer moms texting and charging through red lights all over Europe, believe me. One almost ran me over this morning when I was out rollerblading. She was texting as she turned into a side street. When I complained, she just swore at me.

To me, the three tell-tale signs of a speedaholic are the following…

 

 

1. Chronic multitasking. The human brain cannot do more than one thing well at the same time. When we try to, the result is that we do the things less well and take more time doing them. That is a scientific fact. But our hurry-up, do-everything-faster culture has turned multitasking into a virtue. If you often find yourself doing several things at once, that is a sign of speedaholism.

2. If you’re tired all the time, or suffering from illneses . That is often the body’s way of saying you’re moving too fast and need to put on the brakes.

3. Failing memory is another sign. There is an intimate link between slowness and remembering. When life rattles along at breakneck speed, everything becomes a blur and nothing sticks. You end up skimming the surface of experiences, accelerating your life instead of living it. A common symptom of this is struggling to remember anything. Like what you did last weekend. Or ate for breakfast. Or what your partner whispered to you in bed the other night.

 

Latest Best Seller by Carl Honoré

Lauroly Q- Your new book THE SLOW FIX really delves into the real genius of “slow” and aims to show us how the quick fix is never a wise modus operandi. Problem solving is a slow process and a creative process yet nobody seems to have the patience for any slow development these days. We worship companies like Apple who really didn’t succeed overnight did they? They tweaked, refined and made a few “mistakes” before becoming a behemoth technology company. I like how you explain the human brain mechanisms, System 1 and System 2 in your book.  Share with us the psychology behind our quick fix mentality and why we humans are so vulnerable when it comes to the allure of “speed” and instant gratification. 

Carl Honore:  I think two things are going on here. First, biology. Our bodies and brains are wired to reward us for seeking out short-term solutions that require minimum effort. But on top of that we’ve created an entire culture that pushes us into the arms of the quick fix. The media demands instant remedies for every problem; the financial markets reward short-term thinking; the political system favours those who think in terms of the next elections rather than long term. The self-help industry peddles endless quick fixes. Underpinning all of this is a culture that glorifies speed for its own sake and holds up busyness as a badge of honour. Put all of this together and it’s no wonder we reach for a band-aid solution when deeper surgery is needed.

Lauroly Q- You compare the slow fix to a special recipe which requires the blending of key ingredients. What do you think the most important key ingredient is when trying to slow down in a culture of speed? Can we really beat the culture? 

Carl Honore:  As a natural optimist, I definitely think we can beat the culture. I believe strongly that we have reached a point in history where change is not only necessary but also inevitable. For at least the last 150 years we have been accelerating everything. And during most of that time speed did us more good than bad, which is why the proponents of slowness (such as the hippies) remained on the cultural fringe. But in recent years, with the explosion of information technology and the global economy, speed has entered the stage of diminishing returns. It is now doing us more harm than good – look at what the constant hurry does to our diets, health, work, relationships, communities and the environment. And that is why the Slow revolution is gathering momentum.

The economic crisis of recent years is a searing wake-up call, a reminder that our fast-forward way of life is pernicious and unsustainable. The economy was all about fast growth, fast profits and fast consumption – and look at how it almost steered us into an economic apocalypse.

 

People are starting to understand that we need profound change in the way we run our economies and societies, and in the way we live together. There is a real hunger for change, for doing things differently, for living at the right speed rather than as fast as possible. Slow is not some fashion you read about in the Sunday newspaper and then it’s gone two months later.  I believe Slow is a powerful philosophy that can change the world.

I would direct the skeptics out there to look at the history of other social revolutions. Take the rise of feminism. In the 60s, when feminists said the world was unjust and the moment for change had come, the mainstream reaction was: “No, the world has always been this way. You can’t change it. Go back to the kitchen!” But look at the world today. Obviously there is a long way to go to create a world of perfect gender equality, but a woman today could hardly imagine how severely life was limited for her grandmother. I look at my sister and my grandmother and marvel at the change in just two generations. And the green movement has followed a similar arc: it was dismissed as a plaything for hippies and tree-huggers thirty years ago but today is near the top of the political agenda. The message is that the world can change, if we want it to.

For a cultural revolution to occur, you need three factors: the need for change; an awareness of the need for change; and people willing to put that change into practice. We now have all three factors in place for the Slow Revolution to push on. I think the Slow movement is at the same point as feminism or green-ism was 30 or 40 years ago. We won’t change the world, or make it Slow, next month or next year. But it will happen.

You asked what is the key ingredient of the Slow Fix.  If I had to choose one, I’d probably choose the first one in the book, which is why I made it the first chapter: that is, the willingness to admit to mistakes. This takes time because you have to deal with the discomfort and emotional fallout that usually attends a mea culpa. But it’s almost always the first step to clearing the air and unlocking the door to fresh thinking on the problem.

 

There is also a meta point to be made here. By the same token, the first step towards moving the Slow revolution into the mainstream is also the willingness to admit the folly of our ways, to accept that faster is not always better. The flip side of our roadrunner culture is a deep taboo against slowness – slow is a pejorative term, a byword for lazy, torpid, unproductive, stupid. This means that even when we can feel in our bones that putting on the brakes would be good for us, we are afraid or ashamed to do it. The first step towards smashing this taboo is admitting that we were wrong to create it in the first place.

Lauroly closing:  I could go on forever talking with you about the fascinating culture of speed and it’s degenerating effects.  But I don’t even know if any of my readers actually get to the end of my blog posts! lol. Thanks so much for joining me Carl and I look forward to more of your enlightening cultural insights in whatever format you deliver it. Take your time–I promise to be patient because I know it will be really good! 

What a great conversation! In the spirit of creating change and spreading wise ideas, I hope you share this blog post with others by using the share buttons provided below. You can also learn more about Carl at his website and follow him on Twitter @carlhonore.  Come support Carl’s message at our WWB FACEBOOK Page where we will also share this Q&A!

Truly Herself,
Lauroly

 

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